Ketamine has a reputation for being a hallucinogenic drug. However, many fail to realize the potential that ketamine holds. There have been controlled administrations of ketamine which have resulted in improvement for patients who have either depression, anxiety or both. The use of ketamine, however, raises a few brows due to it’s past uses as well as the ethical dilemma it introduces. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, ketamine holds a reputation for being a hallucinogenic drug which usually functions through pharmacological mechanisms of action while altering consciousness.
Hallucinogenic drugs will alter consciousness as well as shift the fundamental parts of a mental framework. Every subject that partakes in these hallucinogens will have different experiences, some experiences will seem more mystical than others. This is a result of when the psychedelic effects are correlated to the activity at the 5HT-2A receptors. Therefore, ketamine is able to alter consciousness and other mental frameworks to achieve serotonergic psychedelics while also inducing a common glutamatergic pathway of drug effect. From these experiences, the effects of ketamine seems to suggest that patients become more willing to accept healthier values, behaviors, and beliefs. There are also other evidences that suggest that the experiences induced by ketamine and other psychedelic experiences that suggest that subjects become more motivated to quite other drugs like cocaine. However, as promising as ketamine sounds, there are also psychedelic vulnerabilities that patients become more plausible to such as hopelessness, guilt and suicidality.
With ketamine resurfacing to the general public as a new plausible form of an antidepressant, that has been more widespread data on psychotomimetic and dissociative effects that ketamine provides. From various studies conducted by Berman, Zarate and their colleagues, their findings suggest that the ketamine induced psychotomimetic symptoms are disconnected from the antidepressant effects of ketamine. As measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, ketamine’s antidepressant effects were significant even after positive symptoms on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale returned back to baseline. Yet there are still more studies being conducted to better understand the relationship between ketamine and its effects as an antidepressant. Notably, it is safe to suggest that the antidepressant effects are correlated to the psychotomimetic or dissociative effects of ketamine.
It should be noted that ketamine has a short duration of antidepressant effect with the benefits reaching its full potential within 24 hours. Most cases, the psychoactive experience of ketamine comes from the repeated doses thus creating for patients more opportunities for meaningful experiences. However, it should be noted that there may be an underreporting of patients and their experiences because of the side effects of the dissociative symptoms so it’s hard to say that the dosing is more or less related to the drug effect than other factors. Additionally, a lack of rapid response was a poor indicator for improvement. Therefore, there are more studies being conducted in order to find whether the different factors like psychological and biological may be the reason for how ketamine is a sustainable form of treatment.
There are more studies that need to be conducted in order to find out whether utilizing ketamine is the best solution for patients. From the patient’s past history to the therapeutic approaches, the use of ketamine must be further explored to find exactly how it benefits patients with their own conditional histories of psychological and biological build. With that being said, psychiatrists and clinicians are looking deeper into the patient’s personal and familial histories of psychotic or psychiatric disorder before administering ketamine. Clinicians will also carefully prepare patients before their ketamine therapy with a controlled setting in order to give their patients a peace of mind and a safe environment. Overall, ketamine has the potential to help patients that may have treatment resistant depressive disorders thus encouraging the further exploration of the psychological and biological effects of ketamine.